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Susan and Denis LaBonte, left, arrived at Gerardo's with too many gifts to carry themselves and needed help from firefighter Andrew Hensley during the Tamales for Toys fundraiser, Saturday, Dec. 3.

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The smell of tamales hit as soon as the door to Gerardo’s Fireside Grill opened at the Tamales for Toys event Saturday, Dec. 3. Diners sat around the restaurant savoring the perfectly seasoned tamales and pinto beans. To support the cause, they could either donate a toy or pay cash. Friends greeted each other as new groups came in to sit and eat. A steady stream of people picked up bags of a dozen tamales to take home. The 2011 Tamales for Toys (soon to be renamed Public Safety Christmas for Kids event) brought the community out to support children who live on the edge. “There’s one family we want to help. Their mom died of cancer recently and Grandma is raising all four kids,” said Jason Hazelo, a Payson police officer who has chaired the event for the last three years.


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